Monday, June 28, 2010

Have No Fears (Literally)

Fears is the missing -- okay, not truly missing, but certainly underappreciated -- link between Don Hutson and Lance Alworth. A long strider with hops and less of Elroy Hirsch's jitterbug stuff, Fears won three straight receiving titles running under bombs in the Waterfieldian era, then had his numbers tumble as the Dutchman took over and the offense opened up like the headers on a hemi.

However, Fears was only a one-time All-NFLer, and for that blame must be laid squarely at the feet of East Coast writers pretending the league ended at Chicago.

Consider this: In 1948, Fears' rookie year, Fears caught 57 passes for 698 yards and was named second-team all-NFL by two out of six major publications or syndicates. The other five all-NFL ends, Ken Kavanaugh, Bill Swiacki, Mal Kutner, Pete Pihos, and Ed Cifers, caught 18, 39, 41, 46, and 0 passes -- and none of them played west of the Mississippi. Pihos, Kutner, and Swiacki finished second, third and fourth in receiving; Kutner, Pihos, and Fears were the top three in receiving yards and yards per game; Kutner, Pihos, and Swiacki were 1-2-3 in receiving TDs, and Kutner was second in yards per catch. Kutner, Pihos, and Fears were the NFL's top three ends in 1948; Swiacki was there because he was a Columbia boy and a college legend, Cifer was a D-end, and Kavanaugh was there because he was a Bear and George Halas threatened to beat up any sportswriter who didn't vote for him.

Fears got the short end of the stick in '48, the stick got longer in '49, and he got full measure in '50. After that Fears' numbers dropped, others' rose, and he was done.

1 comment:

  1. Good post as usual.

    If I recall my NFL trivia was not Fears technically speaking anyway, the first Wide Receiver by nature of where he lined up on the field? Plus I recall he was one of the first great Mexican-American players since he was born in Mexico.

    Of course I remember him best prowling the sidelines as the Saints head coach back in the day.

    On such things are nostalgic memories based.